Samson Occom's Account of the Death of a Christian Mohegan Indian

line of text torn through ]1 This Life, December 24, 1776

First [ illegible ] her mother,2 whether she thought her3 to be near her end, the mother said, “I don’t know, but God only knows.” [She?] replied, “Yes [ illegible ]” She lay still in awhile, and when she began to speak again, she said she would give her ribbon (a certain ribbon she had) to Hannah, her youngest sister, and then she desired her mother to bring her best gown [ line of text torn through ] this.  She lay again a little while then said, “I am now willing to forsake myself.  I am willing to die.  If I never see my father4 again, I am content.  I hope I shall see him in heaven.” (Her father was at a great distance at this time.) Then she lay [ torn ] still again.

And when she began again, she said, “I saw four angels.  They have been here, and they were going to carry me away.  They began to lift me up, but then I saw other angels, and they said, “She must not go yet. [ torn ] She has not done her work.” And she did not know what she had [to] do, and she asked her mother what could it be that she had to do?  The mother said she did know, but God knows it is true.  She said, “God does know.”  After this, she was silent again.

A while after, she began and said “God, I hope, did great work for me some time ago, and he bid me to go home to Mohegan and see your brethren, and I thought I had no brothers but one, and he said to me your father is your brother and your uncle is your brother and others, and upon this, I saw my father and Uncle Sam, and Philip was with them, and some others, the whole number was but small, and I saw a table, such a table as never was seen in this world, and my father and Uncle Sam sat near it, and this company was travelling together, and I saw Christ going before them, and his track was all bloody, and the company followed his footsteps, and I was bid to follow them.  And I came home on purpose to tell what I had seen and heard, but when I got home, my heart failed me, and I did not do my work.  I was ashamed to be laughed at, and I gave a way to temptation, and by it, I got into great darkness because I did not do what God commanded me to do.

About this time, she deeply groaned repeatedly, and her mother asked her what was the matter with her.  She said she had dreadful pain in her breast, then she broke out in such language as this:  “O, What a merciful mind God has that he should send his son into this world to suffer. O, What pains did he feel for sinners.  My pains are nothing to his pains, and, O, what a kind and merciful God that he should have mercy upon such miserable sinful creature as I am.”

Then she said, “No one that fights shall ever enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, nor them that carry sharp weapons and heavy things, for the first Christians did not fight but were loving.”  Further she said, “If this house was never full of riches or this whole world was stored with riches or treasures, I am willing to leave it.  I would not look upon them.” 

About this time she said, “She thinks herself better and above her.”  The mother asked her, “Who?”  “Hannah, she thinks herself above Jerusha, but Jerusha has better inheritance5 than she has,” (meaning Old Sam's wife and Young Sam’s wife's).  Then she said, “I will follow him.”

The mother asked her, “Who?”  She said, “The most excellent person,” and the mother said, “Where?”  She said, “To the most glorious place.”  And lastly she said “I am going in few minutes,” expired without any struggle, so fell asleep, as we hope, in the merciful arms of Jesus.

Some things in this relation may appear to be something like imaginations, but, in general, they appear to be like the Gospel experience.  Some things that were forgot at the first writing of this short relation:  a little while before she died, she asked her mother whether she had made up with God.  The mother said, “I cannot tell you.”  Then she said, “I have made up with God, or we are reconciled” and said further, “No drunkards and frolickers shall ever enter into heaven.”  And as the mother thought she was a’ dying, she got some drink and put to her mouth, and she turned her head and said, “I shan’t drink till I get home.”

In the year of Our Lord, 1804

Fidelia Ann H. Smith was born in the year of Our Lord Christ, September 15, 1828.

Fidelia Ann H. Smith was born in the year of Our Lord, 1828.6  

Henry Greenwood [Baker] was born in the year of Our Lord, 1833.

Hannah Church was born in the year of Our Lord 1820.

And my father sailed out of New London in the year of Our Lord Christ, 1837.

And my uncle Charles Wyyougs died in the year of Our Lord Christ, January 14, 1837, aged 29 years.  

Adelaide Virginia Babbit was born in the year of Our Lord, April 2, 1840.

Bartholomew Smith died May 15, 1843, aged 33 years.

Hannah Shantup, the mother of Martha Tantaquidgeon, died March 20, 1825.

Samuel Hoscutt,7 the son of Martha Tantaquidgeon, died June 7, 1831, aged 39.

Mohegan Montville, May

That land Mr. Fitch sold came to 39698 in year 1846.

Fidelia A. H. Smith where

Fidelia Ann   M W Y

Emily J Newton9

  • 1. The manuscript exists as a small 3½ by 4½ inch booklet, the first and last pages of which have become detached. The uppermost part of the first page is ripped but shows evidence of writing. Some text on the recto and verso of the first page is obscured by an application of scotch tape. Handwriting analysis indicates that the author of the first part of this document is Samson Occom. The account is followed by a series of genealogical and historical jottings by Fidelia Smith Fielding, written several generations later.
  • 2. The mother of the young woman most likely is Betty Ashbow.
  • 3. The name of the young woman is not provided. She is most likely the daughter of Robert and Betty Ashbow.
  • 4. This is most likely the Mohegan leader, Robert Ashbow.
  • 5. It is unclear what this remark is about. Samuel Ashbow, Sr. and his wife Hannah had just lost two sons in the American Revolution, while Jerusha and her late husband had a three-year old young son, Joshua, who could represent the family’s continued lineage. However, as the name Jershua in Hebrew can be translated as “inheritance,” Occom might have been playing on the nuances of her name here. The editors would like to thank Dr. Hershel Safer for bringing the meaning of the name Jerusha to their attention.
  • 6. Originally written as 1827, corrected to 1828 in pencil.
  • 7. Hoscott was Fidelia’s uncle.
  • 8. Most likely $39.69.
  • 9. Emily J. Newton is currently unidentified. She may be the niece of Rev. J. W. Newton, pastor of the Third Congregational Church in Norwich Falls, Connecticut.